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Like most people suffering from celiac disease, Julie Scianna diagnosed herself. After years of feeling the discomfort and bloating that goes along with the condition, she visited doctor after doctor, sometimes being told she simply had a “sour stomach” or irritable bowel syndrome – once even that she might have ovarian cancer. None of these diagnoses seemed to help.
Eventually Julie’s friend, who’s also a celiac, suggested she eliminate gluten from her diet. The results were dramatic and Julie saw improvement almost overnight. Soon she was off on a quest to find foods she could eat that were as fresh and delicious as the foods that had been her favorites.
Learning that her own children—Emily, Ryan, Danny, and Jake—also required a gluten-free diet, Julie quickly found that finding gluten-free choices was a challenging task, both in restaurants and supermarkets. And finding foods that the children would love made it even more difficult. She began a cooking club with a few friends, and soon joined up with chef Andrew Hebda to develop entirely new gluten-free recipes, focusing both on baked goods and on familiar comfort foods such as lasagna and pizza.
Some of their products came to the attention of a leading Chicago restaurateur, who was so impressed he encouraged Julie to open a café and carry-out, which was the original OMG…It’s Gluten Free! Today that restaurant is only a part of a company that distributes its popular gluten-free products nationally to restaurants, supermarkets, health food stores and even theme parks.
My favorites from OMG are the pizza, which I can buy and freeze for a weeknight dinner when we have a softball game, and Hebda’s homemade gluten-free granola, which is absolutely addictive. I have to hide it so my girls don’t get to it before I do. It’s a treat sprinkled over Greek yogurt, with fresh strawberries, bananas or whatever fruit I have on hand.